Hou Yifan wins ‘Belt and Road’ online tournament

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
12/6/2020 – The now traditional Chinese chess tournaments in Danzhou are taking place this year despite the pandemic. An 8-player double round robin with all male participants is running on December 3-9, while a 10-player single round robin women’s tournament — with a faster time control — was played on Friday and Saturday. Hou Yifan, the rating favourite, finished in clear first place, a full point ahead of Sarasadat Khademalsharieh and Tan Zhongyi. | Photo: Official site, retrieved from chess.com

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Not fully virtual

As usual, the strong tournaments organized in Danzhou, China have not been widely publicized outside the Asian country. The main event, an 8-player double round robin with four Chinese players and four international starts kicked off on Thursday and will run through December 9, while a two-day women’s event with 10 participants took place on Friday and Saturday.

The “Belt and Road World Chess Women Summit” was a single round robin event with a time control of 15 minutes for the game and 5-second increments from move 1 (the main tournament is played at a 15+10 time control). Former women’s world champion Hou Yifan was the top seed and won the event with a 6½/9 score.

Due to the pandemic, the tournament took place online, although it was not fully virtual — the Chinese participants all gathered at the Country Garden Havana Holiday Hotel to play their games, much like their male counterparts. The games were played on the chess.com platform.

The strong event included five (out of the 13) women players with a 2500+ FIDE rating. In the end, the highest-rated woman player in the world — by quite a margin — prevailed, albeit after suffering losses against Lei Tingjie and Nana Dzagnidze. A full point behind Hou, 23-year-old Iranian star Sarasadat Khademalsharieh and former women’s world champion Tan Zhongyi tied for second place.

Final standings

Rk. Name Pts.
1 Hou Yifan 6,5
2 Khademalsharieh Sarasadat 5,5
3 Tan Zhongyi 5,5
4 Lei Tingjie 5,0
5 Abdumalik Zhansaya 4,5
6 Muzychuk Mariya 4,5
7 Zhao Xue 3,5
8 Stefanova Antoaneta 3,5
9 Dzagnidze Nana 3,5
10 Atalik Ekaterina 3,0

Hou kicked off the event with four consecutive wins. In round 5, however, she was defeated by Dzagnidze out of an extremely sharp Sicilian. Hou had gone all-in from the get go, to which her Georgian colleague responded sharply, advancing on the kingside. Hou’s decisive mistake came on move 29:


The engines think White has the better position here, but the only way to keep the edge was to play 29.Kg1 (29.Qxg2 is not as good, but keeps the battle going as well). Instead, Hou’s 29.Kxg2 gave way to the lethal 29...Qg4+, when White is lost in every line:


White tried to swindle her way out with 30.Qg3 fxg3 31.Bb5+ axb5 32.Rd8+:


32...Kxe7 wins the game, but not 32...Rxd8 33.exd8Q#.

The highest-rated woman player in the world bounced back with a win over Tan Zhongyi, was defeated by Lei Tingjie, signed her only draw of the event against Khademalsharieh and secured first place with a victory over second seed Mariya Muzychuk in the last round.

All games



Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.


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